GDS Conquer/Complete the South Downs Way

13 Employees from GDS completed the South Downs Way (SDW) mountain bike ride last week and raised over £2,700 for Cancer Research UK in the process. The challenging 100 mile mountain bike route started in Winchester and ended at the white cliffs of Eastbourne. The GDS team tackled the SDW over two days which included over 11,500 feet of ascending hillsides.

 Day 1

Our first day started at 8.00am in Winchester, given the UK was in a midst of heat wave (28oC is hot for the UK), before a pedal was turned, water bottles were filled and sun cream was applied. We then headed off from Winchester out over the Temple Valley and weaved our way down through the rolling countryside on towards Queen Elizabeth Country Park. At the 25 miles mark we were making good progress, the westerly breeze provided a rest bite from the beaming sun and with only one puncture between us, spirits were high.


Fig 1. The team ready to start the ride.

As the day grew longer so did the hills, with over 5000ft of climbing left that afternoon we laboured on. As the pace slowed and the evening grew close, the aches and pains started to set-in. However, with terrific team spirit and a few energy bars we made our final push and arrived at our hotel after almost 12 hours in the saddle. After a celebratory drink and a good meal, we settled down for an early night knowing we had ridden 60 miles and only had 40 miles left to complete. However, there was an element of doubt that we might not make it home in time to watch the football :).

Fig 2. Views from the  first day.

Day 2

After a hearty breakfast and an inspection of the bikes, our overnight bags were loaded into the support van and we were ready to depart. I should note here that our support van met us at various points along the route, so we could replenish our water, fix any mechanical problems and be on hand should we have a problem. It wasn’t far in to the second day we had spectacular sea views of the south coast however, there were some big hills to climb before we got see them. Being the hottest day of the year meant we kept a steady pace, allowing us time to enjoy the views and stop for an ice cream at the top of Beacon Hill. As the views grew more spectacular this hills seemed to grow in ferocity or perhaps that was just our legs getting tired. Though, we all had smiles on our faces as we rolled down into Eastbourne to complete our 100 mile south downs way adventure. 

Fig 3. The team  at the finish line in Eastbourne.

Throughout the build-up and during the ride GDS had been fund raising for Cancer Research UK a leading charity dedicated to beating cancer through research. To date GDS have raised over £2,700.00. The donation page is still open, so if you are able to make a donation to this worthy cause, it would be greatly appreciated. You can donate here...


Fig 4. Some of our Strava stats for the two days.